“This place is more special to me than you could ever imagine.”
Terry Blas (@TerryBlas)
Claudia Aguirre (@claudiaguirre)
Review by Chris Ceary
Content warnings/Trigger warnings: Racism, homophobia, deportation, ageism, sexism, ableism, major character death
What would you do for a lifetime pass to your favorite amusement park? A group of teens gets the chance to answer that question when they learn that the park will issue lifetime passes if one member of your party dies during a trip. A plan is hatched and the teens begin a program where they guide older adults around the park during their summer break. Blas and Aguirre take readers on a journey both whimsical and dark.
Lifetime Passes explores a number of timely struggles such as teenagers dealing with their parents’ deportation or experiencing homophobia. The graphic novel has some interesting things to say about these topics. It is also a rare comic that highlights the lives of older adults. Age representation is so uncommon in this medium and the story handles it well. The older adults forming friendships with the teens is the emotional heart of the story. Unfortunately, at times the graphic novel strays too far from the story and into after-school special, with the tone going preachy in quite a few places. At times there is a level of “kids these days” mentality that is exhausting to read. Some threads are not fully explored. Lastly, the dramatic ending is out of step with the rest of the story in a way that takes the reader out of the emotions of the moment.
The art is where Lifetime Passes really shines. Aguirre’s colorful sensibilities fill each page with whimsy worthy of this Disneyland-esque experience. The characters are most wonderfully realized under the artist’s hand. It is worth flipping through just to enjoy the colorful art.
HIT OR MISS. Your mileage may vary for this one. It might be worth a library pick up and certainly the creative team is one to watch, but overall the book does not quite stick the landing. It has a number of interesting ideas that get marred down in its desire to make a point.